John Zorn

Parachute Years, 1977-1980

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The Parachute Years is a seven-CD box of John Zorn's first self-produced recordings, including his systems for structured improvisation based on games (namely "Lacrosse," "Hockey, "Pool," and "Archery"), as well as over two hours of previously unreleased outtakes, rehearsals, etc. Zorn first began developing his game-based ideas in 1974, inspired by the works of such modern composers as Braxton, Kagel, Stockhausen, and Wolff. Two discs worth of "Lacrosse" are here: the first (from June 1978) offers six takes ranging from six to 20 minutes in length performed by Zorn, Mark Abbott, Polly Bradfield, Eugene Chadbourne, and LaDonna Smith; the second presents the original "Lacrosse" recording (from one year earlier) featuring Zorn, Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser, and Bruce Ackley. Next comes a single disc of "Hockey." Two lineups offer their interpretations: first, there are four electric takes (1978) by Chadbourne, Wayne Horvitz, and Bob Ostertag; these are followed by 13 acoustic interpretations by Bradfield, Zorn, and Mark E. Miller. "Pool" was written in March 1979, and the recording included here took place one year later with musicians Zorn, Bradfield, Ostertag, Miller, and Charles K. Noyes, with prompter Lesli Dalaba. The three CDs of "Archery" (one of which is all rehearsals) document a 12-piece ensemble organized in 1981 and consisting of Robert Dick, George Lewis, Anthony Coleman, Kramer, Bill Laswell, Tom Cora, David Moss, Wayne and Bill Horvitz, Chadbourne, Bradfield, and Zorn. This box set is for dedicated fans already intrigued by the early annals of Zorn and his musical game theories. However, Zorn skeptics and listeners with less patience for theory (or history) should definitely avoid The Parachute Years. This set will not win anyone over; nor will the theories become more clear upon listening. The recordings in The Parachute Years helped the participants -- inspired and creative musicians, all -- to grow, but they also have more historical value than listening interest.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 29:58

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 50:45

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 32:10
2 16:14
3 28:32
blue highlight denotes track pick